Sierra Leone’s president Ernest Bai Koroma (left) may have avoided a run-off in this month’s presidential election, but he still a faces a dilemma – how to attract and retain investors while swelling government coffers to put citizens on the road to prosperity.
Koroma won a second term in elections held in mid-November. He received 58.7 per cent of the vote, narrowly surpassing the 55 per cent threshold needed to avoid a run-off with his main opponent, Julius Maada Bio, who received 37.4 per cent of votes.
Photo: Tamika D. Payne
Investors typically take a wait-and-see approach to elections in Africa. And things are no different in Sierre Leone, which holds a presidential poll on Saturday, in its third election since its civil war.
There’s a lot at stake for the small West African nation looking to move beyond its bloody past – and for the energy and mining companies eyeing its natural resources.
Sierra Leone made news earlier this year as officials boasted of a 32 per cent jump in GDP growth, buoyed by iron ore exports. But don’t break out the local ginger beer just yet.
IMF officials are bracing for see lower-than-expected GDP growth in 2012, as production estimates from African Minerals have been revised downward, according to the Fund’s representative Francis Kumah.
Tags: African Minerals, GDP, IMF, mining
Posted in Sierra Leone, Sub-Saharan Africa | Permalink
Sifting through data on payments for goods and services to garner information about consumer buying habits is a well-established marketing tool in the west.
In sub-Saharan Africa the practice is still in its infancy due to a lack of sources of information, but that’s changing fast. With the rise of mobile payment transactions, a host of information is becoming available on consumer habits. In Ethiopia, for example, one company has already begun culling and collating data.
When Sierra Leone’s Petroleum Resources Unit (PRU) named provisional winners of eight offshore oil blocks last month, it teamed various bidders together for four of the blocks, telling them to move forward as partners in negotiations. The companies had no say in the matter.
“It is like a forced marriage,” said Adekunle King, legal officer for the PRU.
Exports of west African oil are on the rise, with Asian nations increasing supplies from the region. According to a recent report by Reuters, China, India, Indonesia, Taiwan and others in the region bought an average of 1.74m barrels of oil per day from west Africa for first nine months of 2012, up about 8 per cent from the same period a year ago.
The 2012 figures represent an overall record for the region, the report states, with exports to Asia rising more than 50 per cent over the last five years to meet growing demand. The reasons for the demand, however are not entirely clear cut. Is this a response to Iranian sanctions, as suggested?
The smooth and easy transition of power to Ghana’s Vice President John Dramani Mahama following the passing of President John Atta Mills speaks volumes about the strength of the nation’s democracy.
In areas such as oil and technology, progress should stay on track. But the markets still have a few things to iron out – the currency especially being a concern.
It’s rainy season in Sierra Leone, but officials here aren’t at all gloomy when it comes to economic forecasts.
The country’s GDP is expected to grow by a sky-high 32.5 per cent in 2012. That’s revised down a few notches from the 35.9 per cent reported by the IMF earlier this year. However, growth might be a bit more down-to-earth in 2013.
Africa’s banking industry is finding opportunities for growth even as the crisis in the eurozone hangs over it as a potential threat. Take Ecobank Group, the Togo-based pan-African banking group.
“We’re watching the euro on two levels,” says Arnold Ekpe, group chief executive.
West Africa’s mobile phone and data markets are often seen as bright spots in otherwise turbulent economies. But a top regulator in the region says there are still many issues to address before declaring victory in modernising the sector.
Governments, operators and investors need to move beyond the “euphoria” of high penetration rates and realise that ICT (information and communications technology) is about more than having a mobile phone, says Nnamdi Nwokike, executive secretary of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (Watra).
There is little question that Nigeria needs to produce more electricity. Now one state government is trying to take control of its energy crisis with the help of a California-based company.
Califco Group, a private company focused on land and infrastructure development, has joined a public private partnership with Ebonyi state in southeastern Nigeria to construct a 600-megawatt gas fired turbine power plant. Also on tap: a 1.5m tonne cement factory and a 50-megawatt diesel fired plant.
International hotel chains are increasing their presence in Africa, but getting the buildings constructed isn’t getting any easier.
At the end of February, there were 208 signed deals for new international hotel projects on the continent. At the same point last year, there were 159 total projects in the pipeline, according to an industry report. That represents 38,074 individual rooms, up from 31,559 in 2011. That’s the aim, but the reality might be different.